When your divorce is over, you receive a divorce judgment (sometimes called a “decree“) from the court. This is form FL-180. Normally you receive your copy in the mail. The FL-180 will have attachments which detail the terms of your divorce.
Hopefully you and your former spouse worked out the terms of the divorce yourself, perhaps through mediation with the help of a divorce mediator.
Regardless, when you receive the divorce judgment, it’s a good idea to:
- Store it in a safe place so you can easily refer to it when needed
- Read through it carefully to make sure you are clear on all the provisions and the actions that need to be taken.
The judgment takes all the terms of your divorce and makes them court orders. Therefore, failing to carry out the terms of the divorce risks the possibility of being held in contempt of court, if your ex goes back to court to complain.
Usually, the divorce judgment is effective right away. However, sometimes the FL-180 specifies a future date on which you will be divorced.
Is the Judgment the Final Word?
Not necessarily. It is possible to for a spouse to appeal the judgment to a higher court, although this is rare.
What’s much more common is that certain provisions of the divorce may be subject to modification with the passage of time when circumstances change. This definitely applies to co-parenting and child-support provisions. It also applies to spousal-support provisions unless the divorce judgment specifies that these are not modifiable.
Very often there are terms of the divorce that need to be carried out after the divorce is final. An example could be changing the title on real estate or dividing a retirement account. Some of these terms have very important financial implications. So it’s unwise to neglect these actions.
Certified Divorce Judgment
The copy of the divorce judgment that you receive in the mail may not be accepted as authentic by other government entities. So if one of these entities wants to see a copy of your divorce judgment, find out if they need to see a certified copy or not. If so, you can go to the court clerk and receive a certified copy. This will cost you a few dollars.